This Month in Plone: January 2010

There was a lot happening with Plone and its community this past month, so here’s a summary of what happened in January 2010 and what's coming soon to help keep you on top of it all.

In this month’s issue:

Plone Conference 2010 Coming to Bristol, UK — October 27–29

Reserve the week of October 27-29th for the 2010 Plone Conference, to be held in Bristol, United Kingdom.

The Plone Foundation is pleased to announce that it has accepted a proposal from Netsight Internet Solutions to organize the conference, which will include two preliminary days of training, a three day conference, and a two-day sprint. Netsight is a Bristol-based Plone consultancy active throughout Europe. Matt Hamilton, a Plone Foundation Board member and program director for the 2009 conference, will lead the Netsight conference team.

Highlights of Netsight's conference bid included a plan for a pre-conference "analyst's day" for marketing to businesses, special attention to environmental responsibility, and a Plone Community Party. Netsight expects registration to be £300 (roughly 350 euro, $480 dollars) or less. Bristol is a cosmopolitan, thriving city with a lively Plone community and easy access from both sides of the Atlantic.

Find out more about the conference here.

Further Information will be made available soon — in the meantime, if you have any questions or ideas, feel free to shoot an email to

A Chat with Matt Hamilton of Netsight about Plone Conference 2010

Matt is on the board of the Plone Foundation and has attended all but the first Plone Conference, and spoken at almost all of them. In 2009 Matt was the chair of the Program Committee and was responsible for organizing the talks and timetable for the Plone Conference 2009.  He also coordinated the Open Spaces day.

Following last week's announcement on the venue of Plone Conference 2010, we had a chance to talk with Matt Hamilton, Technical Director of Netsight Internet Solutions. Matt will be one of the main organizers of the conference as it comes to Bristol, UK in October of this year.

Q: What can attendees expect to find in Bristol?  What does it offer to the conference goer?  How active is its open source community?

Bristol is a fantastic city, which is widely recognized as a creative, smart, green and connected city. It was voted by DK Travel Guides last year as one of the top 10 cities of the world to visit with its rich mix of history, culture, entertainment. It is a compact city, with all amenities within walking distance and a lively city centre and harbor area with plenty of pubs and bars to keep delegates happy in the evenings.

Bristol is an unorthodox city. We like to take a different tack. This is certainly true when it comes to ICT. The city is home to businesses, public bodies and community groups who are leading the way in open source and energy efficient uses of technology and who are exploiting the power of social media to engage the city's communities in greener, smarter, more collaborative and open ways of living and working.

Open Source is found at all levels in Bristol, from Bristol Wireless -- a social enterprise working to bring broadband connectivity, computers and the skills to use them to all sectors of society; to Bristol City council -- who in 2006 switched to OpenOffice on 5,500 desktops.

Q: Talk about how open source is being supported in the UK?  How does it compare to the situation in the US and elsewhere in Europe?

I can't comment directly on the US and European situation, but Open Source has a very active following in the UK, and the UK Government last year put in place a policy to consider Open Source on equal grounds to proprietary software. A part of this policy states "Where there is no significant overall cost difference between open and non-open source products, open source will be selected on the basis of its additional inherent flexibility."

As always it takes time for the message to take effect, and there are still discrepancies between policy and reality, but it is getting there. Yesterday they revised the policy and strengthened their stance on Open Source to state that if a bid for government IT cannot provide evidence of considering Open Source then it will be consider non-compliant and likely removed from the bid.

Last week the government has just launched, providing access to over 1,000 public data sets and already there are 30 public applications making use of this data.

Q: Your conference will be happening after the launch of evolutionary Plone 4 and before the revolutionary Plone 5 - and will be the largest developer get-together between the two releases.  How will your conference work to bridge the gap between these two very different releases?

As usual there will be a number of tracks to the conference. We are going to follow the format from last year and have four parallel rooms running through the first two days of the conference, so we will be having a Developer track, an Integrators track and New to Plone track.

By the time the Plone Conference happens I would expect us to have a Plone 4.1 or even Plone 4.2 released, so Plone 4 should be well established by then. This gives us a stable base for integrators to work on while the revolution of Plone 5 is being worked on.

There will also be an Open Space day on the third day of the conference, similar to last year. This gives people a chance to bring new ideas to the table and arrange talks based upon the previous two days schedule.

A new aspect of the year's Plone Conference will be a one-day 'mini-conference' on the day before the main conference aimed specifically at industry analysts, customers, evaluators, and integrators. This day will have case study talks and big-picture roadmap talks aimed at people who might not be part of the Plone community and to help them see what is happening in the world of Plone and showcase some of the great successes of Plone.

Q: Do you have a deadline yet for talks / presentations at the conference?

Not yet. In the summer we will put a call out for talks and take talk submissions on the website. Last year we had many great talks submitted, far more than we could fit into the time we had available. This year we hope to have a team of people help speakers review their talk submissions and then all will be online for public vote and the ones that people want to see the most will be put in the program.

Q: How will you be working to involve / interact with Plone community members who can't attend the Conference in person?

We will be recording all talks again this year, and putting them online after the conference is over. We aim to be able to stream the talks live as well. Last year Twitter was used as a back-channel for input from others who were not able to make it in person. I'm hoping we can promote that further this year, and maybe have a specific Q&A session in the schedule where we can get further discussion with remote community members.

Q: A conference with the international representation typical of Plone is a huge undertaking.  What convinced the folks at Netsight it was something you wanted to do?

Yes, it certainly is a pretty massive undertaking. We decided to do it after talking to previous conference organizers and seeing what a great job they have done. We thought 'If they can do it, then so can we!'. Not only that, but Netsight as a company has grown over the years to a point where we now have the manpower to pull something like this off.

Seeing the community spirit at previous events and how willing people within the Plone community are to help out, we thought we should be able to readily 'recruit' others to give us a hand as needed.

Netsight has organized previous events for the community. We organized one of the first Zope 3 sprints outside of the US back in 2003, and we organized the Plone Performance Sprint in Bristol in 2008. We've been part of the Plone Community for the past seven years and thought it would be a fantastic way to continue giving back.

Q: Tell us about your conference website.  Where can folks go to find out more about attending the Bristol conference.

The conference site will be produced in the coming months. Currently we have put all preliminary information up at:

World Plone Day Coming on April 28th

The Plone open source software community will hold the 3rd annual World Plone Day (WPD) on April 28, 2010. WPD is an day of events held around the globe to spread awareness of Plone, a free and open source Internet publishing system that combines web content management, social software, collaboration and enterprise portal features.

This "follow the sun" event is a global initiative by user groups, developers and Plone integration companies. Previous WPDs have featured over a hundred local events around the Globe. 

This year boasts more seminars, training sessions, and meet-up groups to help improve global awareness of Plone. Since Plone is an open source project, it relies on its community. Enthusiasts are encouraged to show up in full force to ensure Plone continues to grow.

The date for World Plone Day 2010 was decided based on a survey which included an evaluation of the previous events. Plone community members from the Americas, Asia, Oceania and Europe provided feedback on the WPD organization process, made suggestions and identified challenges for future editions.

You can find out more about World Plone day by visiting

Plone 4: three times faster than Drupal, Joomla and Wordpress

The following recent article - posted by Jon Stahl on his blog - benchmarked Plone 4's Alpha release for speed versus competing CMS offerings and grabbed a lot of attention and comments from both inside and outside the Plone community. Thanks to Jon for his work in helping get this information out.

Quoting from Jon's blog:

“Plone 4 is about to leave its alpha testing phase and enter beta testing prior to a final release.  One of the many things the Plone team has worked really hard on in this release cycle is improving Plone’s performance.   Plone core developer Hanno Schlichting has blogged about this a number of times, and deserves a tremendous amount of individual credit for digging deep into Plone’s innards to find and fix inefficiencies.”

“When I read Hanno’s most recent performance post, in which he shows Plone 4.0 alpha 3 serving up 22 pages/second without caching on his personal laptop, I  started to wonder how this compares with some of the other common CMS platforms out there.  I was pretty sure none of them could deliver more than 10 pages/second with zero caching or performance tuning.  So I did a bit of quick-and-dirty speed benchmarking.”

“I’ll start with results, then explain my methods.  As I suspected, Plone 4 is faster out of the box than some of the most common PHP platforms.  Lots faster.”

“That’s right:  Out of the box, Plone 4 alpha 3 served up 14.5 pages/second, that’s over three times faster than Drupal 7 alpha 1’s 4.1 pages/sec, Joomla! 1.5.15’s 3.6 pages/sec or Wordpress 2.9.1’s 4.5 pages/sec.  Plone 3.3.4, our currently shipping release, turned in a snappy 9.4 pages/sec, over twice as fast as its PHP competitors.”

Testing methodology

“Here’s how I tested.  Hardware was my 2GHz MacBook with 2GB RAM.  I installed Plone 4.0 alpha 3 using buildout, and used MAMP 1.7.2 to run the PHP products.  I did a default install of each product, no add-on modules, I used whatever default content and initial configuration each product provided.  (Joomla! gives you the option whether or not to install sample content, which I accepted.)  No caching was installed or configured for any system.   I measured performance of the homepage as an anonymous user with trusty ol’ ab -n 10 -c 3, ran it a few times to get the systems warmed up, then noted the value where the runs stabilized.”

Lies, damn lies and statistics

“So, what does all this mean?  Well, honestly, not much.  (Although Hanno clearly has a faster laptop than I do!) This is obviously a crude benchmark.  I didn’t load up each CMS with realistic sample content.  I tested two pre-release products (Plone 4.0 alpha 3 and Drupal 7 alpha 1) against three production releases (Plone 3.3, Joomla! and Wordpress).   All of these CMSes can easily pump out hundreds of pages per second with a little bit of tuning, reverse proxy and/or database caching (although many real-world users don’t bother with performance optimization!).  So, this benchmark is definitely not an accurate measure of the real-world performance of a site.”

“But I think that Hanno and the rest of the Plone team can be very, very proud of Plone’s raw speed.  And as Hanno points out, there are even bigger gains just around the corner; he’s targeting 50  pages/second (without caching), as his goal for Plone 5.”

Plone 3.3.4 Released

Plone 3.3 has a new maintenance release available, and you should upgrade to fix a potential security issue with Zope, and to make your site load faster.

Plone 3.3.4 is now available, and includes Zope 2.10.11, which fixes a potential XSS issue in the default error page in Zope. Although this is hard to exploit, since you have to manage to bypass the standard Plone error page — which does not have this issue — we strongly recommend that you upgrade your servers that are running any Zope version to their fixed releases available from This applies no matter what version of Zope you are running.

Another important issue that has been fixed in this release of Plone was located in the base2 JavaScript library. It would cause the Java plugin(!) to be invoked if you have Java on your computer and are using Firefox 3.5, since there is a "magic" variable that starts the Java VM when accessed. More details here, if you are interested in the full explanation, full details here.

This issue is fixed in the latest release of KSS, and should make Plone faster for your logged-in users that are using Firefox 3.5. Though the issue has also been fixed in Firefox 3.6, which shipped last week, we still recommend that you upgrade.

Plone 4 Alpha Releases Now in Testing

Plone 4 is coming with a lot of new features and improvements! But we can't find and squash its bugs without your help. Please help us improve Plone 4 by downloading and testing our “alpha” release. This release is only for testing purposes and is not suitable for production environments.

Plone 4.0 is currently at its fourth alpha release, and we need your help to test this pre-production release in order to help us find and squash any remaining bugs.

Here's how you can help make Plone 4.0 a solid and stable release:

  • Download a Plone 4.0 alpha release and install it on your workstation or in a test environment.  (Do not use Plone 4.0a3 in a live production environment!)
  • Test Plone 4.0's features old and new as thoroughly as you can.
  • Test your favorite add-on products with Plone 4.0a3.
  • Take a copy (not the original!) of one of your real-world Data.fs files, and try migrating it to Plone 4.0. 
  • Report any bugs you find either to the Plone team or to the appropriate add-on product author.

Disclaimer: Plone 4.0 alphas are testing releases, and is not suitable for production environments.  Do not upgrade your live Plone site to Plone 4.0 alphas, or any pre-release version of Plone.

Plone 3 for Education by Erik Rose Released

Packt Publishing recently released "Plone 3 for Education" - penned by long-time Plone community leader Erik Rose of Penn State's Weblion group. Erik has written several popular Plone products—including FacultyStaffDirectory, WebServerAuth, and CustomNav. He's also a member of the Plone 4 Framework Team and spokesman for the Plone 5 Framework Team.

From Packt:

“Plone 3 for Education is for the makers of school web sites, from primary to university, from e-learning to public-facing, from tech-savvy teachers to seasoned software developers. A user-level familiarity with Plone is the only prerequisite; everything else is baked in.”

“This book is written especially for time-constrained web teams. Every chapter is hands-on from start to finish, focusing on getting a value-adding site up fast. Necessary theory and tips on best practices are interspersed with the step-by-step instructions, broken out into sidebars so it informs your progress without impeding it. Also, every chapter is independent, dealing with a specific use case—for example, publishing video, creating forms, or representing assignment schedules and syllabi—so you can skip straight to what you need.”

“Most chapters require no programming at all. The few where we dig deeper (for example, to build our own plug-in products) are replete with working code samples and explanations of what's going on. A rudimentary knowledge of the Python programming language is helpful in these but is not essential.”

What You Will Learn from this book:

  • Build common e-learning tasks in Plone: assignment schedules, course materials, online turn-in forms, and class interaction using podcasts and forums
  • Build school-wide and department-wise directories collecting contact info, biographies, and more
  • Take care of necessities, like customizing the look of your site, setting up a production server, and running incremental backups
  • Integrate audio and video with Plone: weaving it into pages, populating portlets, and podcasting it to the world
  • Harness Plone4Artists Calendar product to improve the display of event listings
  • Find tips on information architecture and usability, learning from the successes and mistakes of several sites

You can find out more about the book and purchase it from the Packt website.

CMS Wire covers Martin Aspeli's writeup on “Plone and its competition: choosing a CMS”

CMS Wire recently covered an article by Martin Aspeli back in July, 2009 on chosing a CMS.  According to the article, Martin "...he's digested his observations and shared them in the form of a fairly extensive writeup. While it's obviously Plone-centric, there's a lot that applies to anyone who's trying to choose what Web CMS they want to work with."

The CMS Wire article is a good read in how it relates Martin's research to their overall technology map.

You can read Martin's original article here.

Plone Tuneup #26 Coming February 5th

From 9am to 6pm your local time, Plone developers from around the world are welcome to help resolve their choice of tickets available here. Join us at #plone-tuneup on, Twitter tag: #plonetuneup (if you choose tickets in this list, please tag them "TuneUp26")

26th Tune-Up Prize: The 26th Plone Tune-Up winner will receive a $25 (or equivalent amount in your local currency) iTunes gift certificate. Past Tune-Up prize winners include: aaronvanderlip, witsch, claytron, dbrenneman, encolpe, massimo, garbas, hannosch, maurits, Ricardo Alves, grahamperrin, hexsprite, csenger, james4765, sixstring, t55e, pelle, calvinhp, Amleczko and dukebody.

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